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people who fear plastic

Updated: Jan 23, 2020

Hi there. Nice to see you again.

Okay, there are two types of people: People who reuse plastic bags...and people who don’t.

I reuse. I reuse not just because I want to save the planet, but because plastic bags make me anxious.

There are probably three reasons for this:

  1. It’s residual PTSD from an incident 15 years ago at a co-op in my hometown: As I put my groceries on the conveyor belt – sans cloth bag in tow – the checkout guy asked me, “Corn...or tree?” (Yes, their “plastic” bags were actually made out of corn. It was that kind of co-op.) In retrospect, maybe he was just trying to be funny, but, to my shame-ridden ears, it sounded like a self-righteous assholey remark. I wanted to shout sassily, “Actually, I always carry a cloth bag...I just left it in the car this one time.” And here he was, rubbing my face in my own supposed waste-loving shit. I felt judged in a community that prides itself on inclusivity. “All are welcome here in this space of free love. Oh wait – you DON’T HAVE A CLOTH BAG?! GET OUT! YOU’RE UNWORTHY!”

  2. My dad detests plastic bags, so, growing up, I pretty much equated them with the devil incarnate.

  3. I care too much.

I also care too much about food going bad, so I basically force-feed D when necessary to avoid throwing out expired leftovers. Luckily, he hates to waste food, so this works out well.

He really hates to waste anything, in any capacity. I recently caught him removing a shampoo bottle from the garbage, because there was still a pea-sized amount smeared on the inner lid – aka, just the right amount for him.

However, D does not reuse plastic bags. If it was up to him, the entire cabinet under our kitchen sink would be stuffed with different shades of balled up plastic bags – kind of all wadded together compactly...but not really.

The image makes me hyperventilate more than Flywheel.

As the primary grocery shopper, I have to strategically time my bag usage, as what drives him crazy is having no more bags left. We use them as trash bags and, while, in Jamie’s World, I always use cloth bags and buy cute little trash bags instead, D thinks that’s absolutely ridiculous. A few weeks ago, he stuck a nail in the wall of the cabinet from which I can hang a cute little cloth bag to hold bag overflow. This helps me – and it helps him, because I’m not freaking out about the bag monster that takes over that sacred storage space.

This entire bag situation is perhaps the greatest example of compromise.

It’s also an example of caring too much.


To quote Toni Morrison:

"You wanna fly? You gotta give up the shit that weighs you down."

I have this posted in my bathroom. And I, just this very moment, realized how amusing that is.

My family has home videos of me dying Easter Eggs, and let’s just say that that OCD kicked in early. You know you’re mind needs to chill out when your recurring anxiety nightmare centers around you realizing you got to the end of the high school semester and you missed a few music lessons.

In a relationship, caring too much is a blessing and a curse. One of the #1 pieces of advice I’ve received thus far in my married life is this:

Choose your battles.

D and I repeat this back to each other often. Granted, it’s often when the other person somehow goes too far. But, you know, at least we’re using the language, right?

I’m not always good at that. I’m working on it, but it’s not the most wonderful thing I bring to the table. It isn’t always about a need to control, but because I don’t understand why he does what he does.

And, yes, I recognize that men and women are wired differently. But sometimes I just can’t help myself, and I go in – almost always to regret it twenty minutes later, when we’re no closer to understanding each other and even more frustrated and confused than before.

After a challenging moment just this afternoon, I finally said, “When you say something that sounds ridiculous and makes absolutely no sense at all, I should just think to myself, ‘It’s fine. He has no idea what he’s talking about.’”

To which D replied, “Yeah! That’s pretty much what everyone else says!”

Gosh, I love that man.

The bottom line is that, even though we differ in our opinions (and fears) about plastic bags, we both sometimes care too much. But, you know what? I’d much rather struggle with that than with apathy. It definitely keeps life interesting and entertaining!

Caring matters, but it’s important to choose your battles and put your energy into caring into the big things that really matter. Like what movie you watch on a Friday night.

Just kidding. Kind of.

What are your “plastic bags”? What in your life represents something that, perhaps, you might benefit from letting go of a bit – and how do you navigate that in relationships?

Thanks for stopping by. And keep sharing your stories, because someone wants to hear them.


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